Not for the first time this season I feature a photograph of a “resigned” manager on my mactchday previews as this time we bid farewell, a fond one for some, to FC Seoul’s Choi Yong-soo. Choi was in his 2nd stint at the club and quite like Kim Hak-beom circa Seongnam 2016, his past successes were not to save him from the knee-jerk (jerk being the more appropriate) reaction of the 2000’s football “fan”. And so just like with Lee Lim-saeng we bid farewell to a K-League One manager who may very well be missed more by his rivals than his fans.
Onto the weekend’s games and this weekend we welcome fans back into Korean football stadiums for the first time in 2020, albeit with only a 10% capacity and rather strict social distancing guidelines. There are some pretty tasty looking games split across both Saturday and Sunday and where better to start but with FC Seoul as, managerless, they travel to Seongnam desperate to turnaround a season which could only be worse if the club dissolved….and even then most of their fans would probably rather face that than the prospect of relegation. They face Seongnam on the back of yet another embarrassing defeat, this time a 5-1 home humiliation at the hands of Pohang in the FA Cup. That result probably was the seal on Choi’s coffin and they really need to bounce back quickly as Incheon are getting closer and closer. Seongnam come into the game after defeating Bluewings 1-0 in the cup, Tomi the hero on the night as he bagged the only goal of the game at a rain battered Tancheon.
Elsewhere on Saturday night there are huge matches for both Jeonbuk and Incheon as the former host an in-form Pohang while Incheon welcome fellow bottom-sixers Gwangju to town in a game they really need to avoid losing at all costs. Jeonbuk sit 3pts behind Ulsan and, like most of last season, look like finally relinquishing their crown. Incheon, although still winless, have drawn their last three games and have actually taken the lead in the last two. They are a team hungry for the win, hungry to stay up and given their relegation battle history they are a team that knows how to grind out the results.
Not to be left behind by it’s more traditional footballing cousin, Sunday also boasts a couple of mouthwatering clashes as table-toppers Ulsan head to Busan to face one of the few teams to lay a glove on them this season, a 1-1 draw back in May. Ulsan are without doubt the best team in Korea this year, they sit top of the table and easily sent Gangwon crashing out of the FA Cup midweek. That Cup victory came on the back of a 5-1 thrashing of Sangju with Junior Negrao netting his 17th league goal of the season. It’s still early days yet but you do get the feeling that the only team that can stop Ulsan is…….Ulsan.
Sangju will have to lick their wounds on their travels as they make the trip to Gangwon, who despite all the early season plaudits have only the solitary win in the last five matches. Gangwon have suffered defeats in the league and cup to Ulsan and last weekend were unable to muster a single shot on target against Seongnam. The final match to round out the weekend is Bluewings vs Daegu with the hosts going into the match knowing that practically all their bottom six rivals will have already played each other, can they make the most of this weekend?
Predictions for the games below